Do people change that much between teenage years and old age? Yes, they do, and you might be surprised by the difference!

Remember seeing that friend from high school and noticing how much he’s changed? Maybe not, maybe you happened to see someone who hadn’t transformed at all. Well, if those high school friends are between adulthood and middle age, you might not be as prone to notice any differences.

However, if you are in the winter of your life and see an old friend, you might be astounded by how much he’s changed.

Remembering the girl of my youth

I will say this: I am 42, and when I look at pictures from high school, I see a different version of myself. I already notice quite a few changes between then and now. For instance, I no longer care as much about making lots of friends or fitting in – it’s nonsense. As far as physical traits, I noticed my taste buds are a different and energy levels have decreased.

But is there a drastic change? I guess it would take a little analyzing to truly see if people change.

Daniel Gilbert, Research Psychologist at Harvard University, asked,

“Is it really the case that we all think that development is a process that’s brought us to this particular moment in time, and now we’re pretty much done?”

Gilbert wonders if the change is that obvious. Who he is now couldn’t possibly be the only person he will ever be from now until death. Although it’s sometimes hard for his mind to wrap around further transformations, he knows these changes to be true. Science agrees with this belief. In fact, it’s been tested and tried.

Science says that we are completely different people at age 77 as opposed to age 14.

Psychology and Aging published the longest running study on this topic. In the study, it was proven that we are indeed much different at old age than in our teens. The British Psychological Society agrees with this information. Not only is the body’s chemistry changed, but the personality is almost unrecognizable. People change, it’s not in the imagination.

The larger the gap, the more we have changed

The reason we know and understand this to be true is because of this long-running age study. Unlike other studies which tested differences in individuals between teenage years and midlife or midlife and old age, this study recorded information for many decades about how people change.

Starting in the 1950s, over 1200 14-year old’s in Scotland were given questionnaires about self-confidence, moods, desire to learn, conscientiousness, originality, and perseverance. These detailed questions were formulated into one question which pertained to overall dependability.

Then 6 decades later, when over 600 of these participants were located, only 174 agreed to repeat the testing. The participants, aged 77 by this time, answered the same questions. Friends of the participants also answered the same questions. The answers from 1950 and the present time were completely different.

Stability or no…

It seems that personality had changed so much that the 77-year-old test subjects were not the same people as they were in 1950. There is no stable self! The personality, apparently, can transform just as the physical body transforms. The definition matches the Buddhist’s believe that the stable self is an illusion. I guess it is.

So, about that friend from high school, if you saw him again in old age, do you think he would be drastically different? I think so. Although we are inherently the same creature, we are ever evolving within ourselves, striving toward enlightenment, whether we reach it or not. Sadly, some of us never reach our potential. Regardless, we change, people change.

As we change, however, we can learn to appreciate who we were and embrace who are becoming.

I’m excited by what the future holds. How about you?

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